Grit: Vacuum 3

Marsh had a bit of a better poker game than Samson but he still came up woefully short – grit knew lots of people who would chew him up and spit him out in ten seconds. If these were the kind of monkeys who were making it into important positions these days then he had to wonder what the hell the rest of the crews were made up of.

Marsh had a suitcase of money that he flipped open and it looked full enough to satisfy Grit; looked full enough to fund a few different things which grit had been looking to do with his spare time.

Marsh didn’t speak much – none of his men did either. Grit could tell that they knew their words weren’t their strong point so they kept them to a minimum – no point advertising your weaknesses. Some people had to talk up a good fight before they ever landed a blow on their opponent, and some people just went for the knockdown in the first ten seconds. It was the difference, he supposed, between a street fighter and one of those pretty boys who stood in a ring fighting for a big glittery belt. Sure, Grit probably identified with Marsh more – didn’t mean he wouldn’t kill him, but it was reassuring to meet someone who he at least could stomach.

The transaction was smooth – the death would be smooth too. Grit was kind of suprised about how easy it was to play this game but he was damned well enjoying it.

So, he had two of the so-called big wigs lined up – time to draw in some of the next level players and get them suckered into the scheme as well. Just the promise of a leg up at the hands of someone like Grit would have them chomping at the bit. Grit allowed himself an uncharacteristic smile – he would enjoy delivering the punchline to this elaborate joke.

Grit: First Round 2

When the moment came to put the plan into action all that extra legwork which he had carried out started to come in useful. He’d found from experience that, when you want them to, things never run exactly per routine, and anything can cause a break in habits, but getting to know how someone is going to react to any given situation gives you the upper hand – means you can throw your hand in there too; you can make a play for the pot.

The guy’s other half, or one of them at least, was giving him some problems and he was having to run around after her, which was causing a delay in his arrival at the place which Grit had marked out for his execution.

It reached a time when it became obvious that the target just wasn’t going to play ball and arrive at the designated destination where Grit would be able to despatch him with no hassle. It reached an hour where Baker was calling him and expecting results and he had nothing whatsoever to report – and if he didn’t get something done soon someone else was going to swoop in and solve the problem for him; well, they would solve one problem and create a whole raft of others.

It served him well that he knew secrets about this man, and that certain secrets he had were not shared with anyone. He was sat across from one of those secrets right now. He had her on speaker phone and she was pulling in the fish he wanted to catch on an easy line that he could not resist.

His target was an expert at lying to one partner to get with another, so Grit had faith that he would not have to wait long at all to meet him in the flesh.

Half an hour later he was sat across from both of these people that he would be shortly killing, and he was wondering what this would do to him. He had no qualms about killing the shithead he had the folder on – that folder made a good case for this scumbag’s execution, but her? She was collateral damage, and that was something he didn’t like. That bullshit about how there were no innocents was a poor excuse for killing people and one he didn’t buy into. Still, he couldn’t afford loose ends – he was lucky that she was a hooker and there wouldn’t be too many people pushing to find her when she went missing.

Bang bang and a bath of hydrochloric acid later and all those loose ends were tied off.

Else City 4: This Shit That Is Reality

Pursey was head of the Clean Up Crew and he was a famously bad tempered bastard; he did not like dealing with people from other departments: dealing with the inanimate and decimated had fractured his mind into compartments where quiet horror constituted the biggest drawer and social niceties had one of the smaller allotments.
He hawked up a healthy wad of phlegm and targetted the ground just in front of O’Halligan. Normally O’Halligan would have cracked him upside his head but he just thought to himself how this guy was going to fit right in with whatever it was residing in that place.
As Pursey and his men entered the property there was an atmospheric shift – it felt as if the space they were occupying was collapsing in on itself; everyone looked as oppressed as they obviously felt. The high pitched whine which pierced the air had been building so gradually a few of them had thought they were suffering tinnitus, but it became apparent that all of them were hearing it, and then it turned into a hybrid scream / drill noise that had them all clutching their heads. A few people started to leak blood from the ears – they were all paralysed by the pain, all looking towards the place where Pursey had gone.
O’Halligan was expecting the place to explode and all of them to come stumbling out aflame and shrieking in agony but it was much more mundane – Pursey looked totally unfazed, as if he dealt with this kind of shit everyday, and in some ways that was exactly what he did.
He exited with a large specimen jar, a huge grin spread across his face.
‘Know what we have here, ladies and gentleman?’
When he got no response, he continued: ‘We have a pocket universe – that thing which started to dissolve O’Halligan’s suit was not acid, but a supercondensed pocket of reality, one antithetical to our own universe. Whilst it is held in what, for the moment I am going to call an egg, it runs just like our universe would (an hermetically sealed continuum) but when the thing is burst or broken it becomes something less stable – a hybrid entity which can no longer subsist by itself and which attacks that around it.’
‘Ok, Pursey, so where does this little scientific miracle come from?’
‘Glad you asked, O’Halligan, where it comes from is the anus of the thing which consumed those people in there.’
‘Run that by me again.’
‘OK, so the thing which ate those human beings in there digested them and shit out brand new universes.’
‘And how is that possible?’
‘That part I haven’t quite worked out. One has to wonder, if reality is the waste product this thing craps out, then what exactly is it that it is digesting?’
‘Forbes, tell me this isn’t fucking with your head.’
‘Oh, I can’t tell you that, O’Halligan – it is a skullfuck and no mistake.’
‘So, what do we do about it?’
‘Well, while Pursey takes this boil back to the lab and looks at it, we go and have a drink in some dive bars and see of anything doesn’t float to the top.’
‘Sounds like a plan.’

word gains 8

now the point, he is thinking, is, do i continue on with this or do i allow it to die a dignified death? can the pursuit of a furtherance to the story achieve anything other than to perpetuate an inwards collapsing of the narrative so it will resemble a souffle that has been left in the oven too long?
his second thought, following closely on the heels of that thought, is, well, what if i let that happen and try to pass it off as commentary on the nature of metatextual texts?
but having built that into the framework as yet another expectation which can either lead to disappointment or fulfilment, yet another question that is being asked of the reader, how can it be a surprise if i jump either way?
has he painted himself into a corner – that is the important question? the corner in a sense is an ever unfurling series fo questions, form-lead experimentations, narrative tricks, etc, etc.
a writer chasing his tail like a dog, a reader bored and licking his own balls.
so he comes up with another idea – superpositional fiction, where the fiction as a whole exists in a state of having ended and having not ended and existing in the superposition state of both of those outcomes. so he can tie it off here like a bleeding stump – eight being a nice number that suggest an infinite loop, and the next piece will do something entirely different with the game.
he scans through all previous entries to see where he might go, sees that the loose ends he will be leaving are actually integral to the nature of the experiment, and is happy that he can write
and it will be the end of something, though not technically this.
so he types
for real this time
considers typing pass GO and collect $200
wonders how many will consider remaining engaged in the game and how many will loop back to word gains 1 and try and re-read to glean the meaning of it all. he wonders if he truly understands the meaning himself.
he will type ‘THE END’ and will finish of this section with a footnote*.
* I am the I and the he and this may not be fictional or it may be, at the end of it one has to ask the question, do they really care?

word gains 7

he finds himself to be disappearing up his own posterior, kind of like ourobouros, but less dignified. and he decides that he needs to add some kind of humour into the proceedings lest he become an insufferable pompous ass choking on his own post-modernity. he briefly considers writing himself a haiku but then he has the cognition that nothing could be more pretentious than to sit down and write a haiku.
minimalism brings out the insufferable boors as much as hyperbolic manifestations of intellect can do, but god, what does that leave? the middle road? the one taken by all those beige conservatives with less imagination than your average toilet cleaner?
he ponders writing some fast food fiction; not literally being fiction about fast food, but fiction which can be consumed in the same manner. but how ironic and full of metatextuality would it be to write about fast food in that way?
circle jerk fiction comes to mind too – get a whole load of self-involved egotistical bastards with typewriters together and get them to write about what they are writing about, what their neighbours are writing about, and the relation between the two. it could even turn into an exquisite corpse eventually; a game of musical chairs with typewriters. a choreographed typewriting pool set to a voiceover by william burroughs talking about his cut-up technique, whilst brion gysin pictures are flashed in tryptichs upon three carefully positioned screens.
he wonders about non-fiction fiction because he feels like he has been writing fictional non-fiction. hmm, selling actual events as fictional events and then blending in the fictional to accounts of real moments in time. where does that get you? confused? enlightened? does it make you a liar or does it make you creative?
circle after circle after circle: chains of self-reflexive loops linked by titles that suggest a cohesive push to an answer but never deliver one because the whole process of asking questions about the nature of the thing being written is the point. provocation, narrative dislocation, and interpenetration of the diegetic and non-diegetic realms which the writing interacts with; shapes and is shaped by. interactivity is not limited to intentionally interactive mediums Рa piece of static writing is still, in some senses created from the  relationship of the author to the work and the reader, and of the reader to the author and the work. but he wants his work to exist as both Рin the writing of it it is meant to be interactive; in its final incarnation it will be in traditional print media and will adopt a new relation to the concept of interactivity.
he imagines each instalment of the piece of work called word gains turned into a series of beads in a kaleidoscope and he twists it and notes down the new patterns.

word gains 6

conversations with fictional constructs aside, he is happy with the latest piece. well, it was really an extrapolated conversation with himself: an internal dialogue externalised. he wonders at other formats that he might explore in a way that adds to the already convoluted form of the narrative – a film about the writer who creates the fictional writer given a voice over by someone other than the real writer himself?
infinite regression may indeed be the game – the aim to pull the whole world into the mirror, turn the mirror into a black hole. crush time, space, light, everything, and push it through a wormhole eventuality in another universe where the laws of physics are completely different.
what if he were to suddenly start adding elements of transhumanism into the mix – tell that science fictional lie that all of this was embedded into the brain in a series of flashing lights that locked a patterned behaviour onto a physical alien structure implanted by an invisible society that wants to control everything? the fluid nature of the story thus far would allow it. it would represent a shift perhaps from writing where the inner workings are worn on the outside like an exoskeleton to a form of writing where there is no reference to the external world, the process of writing, or anything self referential. except the science fictional constructs would most likely be metaphorical representations of real world constructs.
but he doesn’t really want to do that with this piece – his use of suggestion by means of paradiastole means he can throw red herrings at people left right and centre and not worry about the outcome. it distorts the fiction, plays with the reader’s imagination and offers cul-de-sac promises which may eventually come to infuriate.
he wonders how long the game will allow itself to be played. how long before boredom attacks and destroys forward momentum in the motion of the reader and the author. again – to ask the question tempts fate; invites expectation.

word gains 5

‘so there i am,’ he says.
‘yes?’ expectation in his voice.
‘… and i’m writing this piece which is intended as fiction, and someone mistakes it for reality, so it mutates the piece and it becomes some metatextual, self-referential, post-modern piece that aims to provoke the reader so it can then feed of that reaction and fold it into the future momentum and structure of the writing. and it actually gets a response …’
‘ok, so that’s good, right?’
‘yeah, sort of …’
‘ok, so did they engage on it in the way which you were wanting and expecting?’
‘yes, they did actually; it was exactly the kind of thing i had been looking for …’
‘well, now part of me is wondering whether having the understanding response is better than having the clueless mistaken response.’
‘you mean so you have something to react against?’
‘ok, well, aren’t you reacting to it by questioning whether it is what you wanted?’
‘hmm, i hadn’t thought of it that way.’
‘ah, really? so you hadn’t thought about writing about the process of thinking about the process of responding to the writing which he had responded to?’
‘hmm, can you say that again? you kind of lost me.’
‘did i really?’
‘no, i’m controlling this conversation – sorry, the influence of the text is obviously leaking into reality somewhat, given that i am seeing this conversation as an extension of the fiction.’
‘well, in a sense it is. i was wondering – have you thought how the fiction will behave when it moves from the internet where it exists now as an interactive entity to a book where it will basically be mapped onto a different structure and forced to behave in a different manner?’
‘yes, i had thought about screen shotting the story and giving both a context via a preface and the visual cues of reproducing the internet version on the physical page. but of course it will still be something other than an internet interactive serialised fiction with live readers who work to change it as it is written.’
‘of course, but the readers who come to it as a printed text will also change it in the way that they percieve it.’
‘yeah, fuck, it gets kind of complicated doesn’t it?’
‘it always was – a critical reading, any reading, has always changed the nature of the text – goes with the territory. once it is out of the writer’s hands its solidity ebbs. not that a piece would maintain its semiotic integrity were it to only exist in relation to its writer because the writer would change over time.’
‘what if the writer died?’
‘oh, you think that makes them stay in a fixed position? constellations move my friend. is shakespeare held in the same esteem from generation to generation?’
‘hmm, no, course not. damn, what the hell am i building here?’
‘ha ha.’

word gains 4

The reader is fictionalised; an unreliable narrator is built into the narrative; another layer is added to the obfuscation. One might see it as a mutual interpenetration of that which is exterior to the text and that which is interior to it. But there is a distinction to be drawn between actual audience participation and imagined audience participation, although for future purposes either can be seen to function as a driving force where the shape of the narrative is concerned. If no one intervenes and actually interjects with what they perceive the texts to be about will they become an increasingly baroque extended metaphor that grew out of what was initially an exploration of the process of writing, rather than a piece of writing essaying the very essence of what a piece of fiction is in an interactive environment where the writer may be influenced by such things as ‘number of his’ and variously nested comments? Who knows? The author behind the author, who is the author behind the audience? Maybe – it is definitely a variable.
The text conceivably will reach a collapsing point. It is a black hole crushing all light and time within it, for it shall become an extemporaneous example of a spontaneous reaction to both an actual contemporary commentary and a secondary branching from the original narrative intent which runs concurrently alongside. It baffles its readers, baffles itself, becomes so labyrinthine in its plotting that its ultimate pointlessness dooms it to a possible judgment of irrelevancy at any point from the writing of the piece, to the reading of the piece, to the comments upon the piece, and the construction of the subsequent piece, whether said piece be reliant on actual and existing input or not.
How far has the piece strayed from the original intent? It is hard to gauge. For the original intent of the first piece has changed because of the interaction of its observers; has changed in light of the writing of the second instalment; has been re-drafted by the implications of the third piece; and re-shapes itself in the irregular mould of the fourth piece.
What form will the eventual piece of writing take? Will it make sense? Will it cook like souffle for so long in promised perfection only to collapse in the middle? He suspects not, for each element of the larger piece is somewhat self-contained and therefore non-reliant upon earlier instalments, though each instalment talks about the previous parts and intuits the mayhap of future parts. In theory you might put out a part called “word gains 56” and no others and it would intimate things about the rest of an untold story with no need for that actual story to be manifest anywhere other than in the implication that the piece was preceded by 55 other parts. or you might put out part 57 with no intervening parts between that and part 4 and people might start a hunt for the missing segments in their supposedly unfinished story.
part 4, which is this part obviously (though being labelled that doesn’t necessarily mean it is so, though it was indeed written fourth in the series) might suggest to you that there were preceding parts which existed in history which now no longer exist because they were burnt, and part of you would not know whether this was true or not. you might search for the lost chapters and, if those lost chapters turned up later, labelled as such, you would not be surprised. but what if you never knew that were a lie and continued searching, what would you consider the text to have done to you? what would you wish to do to the text?
if i say there are 56 pieces of the story waiting in the future. that there are twenty pieces which were unwritten thoughts intended for this story which are lost to the past. what does this do to you? to the story? what will your reaction do to the story? were you to demand it be so rather than waiting to see where the author leads you, would you uncreate something which, until that moment, because it was an idea cherished, held a high chance of being made?
you scratch you head. the piece does not comment. yet it does. it offers and provokes comment. it waits and does not wait. it is an object infused with a subject trying to be objective about an objective in a subjective way that hopes to trap the readers attention long enough to bleed fuel from them so more attacks may be made upon them and allowed from them.

word gains 3

Reading the second piece he wonders at the wisdom of writing it; wonders at the whole exercise. Then he thinks if I move this to the third person will the exercise begin to take on more reality as a fiction? Strange notion, to be dealing with the truth of an untruth. But the whole point is to build into the forced artificial structure that a piece of fiction colliding with a misperception of it as real has produced. Is it that he has enflamed some existential condition that was heretofore unknown in him? Maybe.
Games. Word games. Could he pull comments into the mix? Make the real people who he reaches to from within the fiction part of him; xerox real world beings and hang them up in the church of his altered textual flesh. But then, would they assume that this is what had occurred, or would they merely see themselves misrepresented instead of fictionalised?
The compartmentalised consciousness of the metafictional author as funhouse mirror version of actual author smiles like the flexing of a reflection on the backside of a spoon which is bending. Except this is the actual author representing his own self exterior to the meat of the story. With the story there is an inside and an outside – at least for the writer, who places himself both interior and exterior to the experience.
The reader, as he reads, shifts from being external to internal as the narrative goes from being purely physical on a screen, to something he is thinking about, a thought he is having. The nature of the experiment changes the more people choose to interact or to not interact. Nothing exists in isolation, even a piece of fiction is not hermetically sealed.
He wants it to leak, to be confusing. And perhaps he will allow some confusion to leak into the narrative, the narrator, the reader – whatever it is that he is in the process of regarding.

Cockroach 3

I had no need of tracking when it came to Hale – for a man who spent most of his life tracking people and working up timetables from patterns of behaviour he was not very good at keeping an irregular schedule in place for himself. That was one of the things we had always been taught – the whole idea that variety was the spice of life was a philosophy to die for as far as we were concerned. Hale had grown old and lazy quickly – how this flabby-minded motherfucker had got the drop on me I would never know; it had to mean that the others were way fucking better than he was and their over-compensation dragged up his batting average and made it look good.
The fact that I knew when and where to find this man meant that he had not changed things up in a long time. If they had run a spot check on him his ass would have been canned straight away. He was the weak link in the chain and in our line of work you didn’t brook no entry point by which people could infiltrate your network.
The laziness spoke of arrogance, so I kind of knew that he wouldn’t be expecting anyone to have the balls to try and attack him on his own turf – here he was thinking that he was safe and sound and free to do whatever the fuck he wanted. I stepped out of the shadows and I let him get a good look at me. Now a headless attacker would more than shock most people, would put them seriously on the back foot – but he was in a different line of work and had seen plenty of shit weirder than that. No, the thing that shocked him was he instantly knew who I was and that meant no good news for him.
He lunged at me, I grabbed his arm, pulled him off balance, tripped him, and was on top of him before he could barely form a thought. I pummelled at him, felt his ribs crack under the force of my blows, watched his face swell and burst. But I had to hold back, had to get him out of sight and try and pump him for information before I disposed of him.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – how in the hell does a headless guy interrogate someone for information? Well, the whole deal with the modifications that were made to me is that this whole situation was an eventuality that they planned for, so there were devices in me for just such an occurrence. A vocal processor facing front, towards the enemy, just like a mine – yes, I know your mind went there, so why not use it?
I have never had a problem asking difficult questions and I have always had a certain finesse when it came to extracting information from reluctant subjects. Hale wasn’t reluctant, but I pretended that he was – he had gone soft in the middle but I just made out like he was a hard nut to crack and kept going long after the questions had borne all the fruit they were going to bear. After a while with him there were no more questions and all I was working on were answers; answers to the questions that were my family’s dead bodies.
I am hoping that it takes as little time as this to take the rest of this organisation apart and I hope that I derive as much pleasure from weighing out the justice as I am here. Pulled fingernails, gouged eyes, slices of tongue, pulled teeth, sliced extremities all spiced with screams that an uneducated man might not expect from a trained soldier. All men scream when it comes down to it – when a professional gets to work there isn’t any place for a person to hide themselves, and I am a professional.